Individuals with OCD can find help from many different health care providers.
Many people first seek assistance from their primary care physicians. Some of these physicians will prescribe medications, but many will refer their patients to a psychiatrist if their symptoms are difficult to treat.
Psychiatrists will do a thorough interview with patients and then often prescribe medications as a first line of treatment for OCD. If the medications are helpful, then treatment will typically continue in that vein. However, if the symptoms continue to get worse, then a psychiatrist will typically refer the patient to a therapist who specializes in the behavioral treatment of OCD, and the two will work together to assist the patient.
Some people will start initially with seeing a therapist. Unfortunately, not all therapists specialize in the treatment of OCD, yet they still try to treat it, often unsuccessfully. It is important for anyone seeking treatment for OCD to ask if his or her therapist specializes in OCD.
Once a patient starts to work with a therapist, the process is exactly the opposite of the process begun with a psychiatrist; the therapist and patient design a treatment plan together to address the obsessions and compulsions. If there is not much progress, then a psychiatrist may be called in to consult on the case and possibly prescribe medication.
A place to seek initial help and get excellent information on how to find a doctor who is right for you is the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, an organization for professionals who treat OCD and for people with OCD.
They have a national conference every year and a website with a lot of great information: www.ocfoundation.org.